Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fragile (2005)

A determind night nurse in a troubled hospital

Amy Nicholls, an American, is called in to replace another night nurse named Susan who unexpectedly left. They're in the process of moving supplies and eventually patients out of Mercy Falls Children's Hospital on the Isle of Wight in southern England. Things are rushed, people are passive and a share just want to clear out and finalize the whole fiasco after a train accident created a delay. They're on a skeleton crew with Amy, the night doctor Robert and an orderly to look after eight remaining special case children, along with a nurse named Helen in alternate shifts.

The old building gives in to some creaks and malfunctions that are at first coincidental and logically explained. Though a trouble-making child named Maggie claims it was a mechanical girl named Charlotte that she uses alphabet blocks to communicate to, with the staff thinking she's just bored and isolated with no parents to care for her. After getting convinced from an incident herself, Amy looks into the records of Simon--a boy who suspiciously broke his bones--which leads her back to Susan and two psychics. With risk of losing her job or sanity, Amy edges on as a catalyst because she believes that something doesn't want to let them leave and to make them suffer despite everyone else brushing the growing number of incidents under the rug with excuses and false reassurances. When more turn over to uncovering the truth, it changes into a race against time to save the children before the deteriorating hospital consumes them.

"Fragile" eventually works into a thriller like pacing for its latter portion with a well timed little twist and some tragedy and sentimental moments. The rest of this English and Spanish made picture flows well enough and has a balance to all sides with events progressively moving along step by step without jumping ahead. Though it starts to feel somewhat like a basic and straightforward formula in areas. Partly of the one random, supernatural occurrence at a time type, and the other part of the "I have to do what's right no matter the odds" kind that's usually seen in murder or political thrillers where morals come into play and the person acts as a crusader. Some areas play out with some predictability and you can depend on it since its upkeep is somewhat simplistic and measured out to the point of having little fat hanging or drifting scenes. Though to its credit, it's a movie that doesn't get muddled or look back and retread, but instead manages to maintain a forward outlook till the growing tension can be released and resolved. Expecting something brand new here and you might be disappointed as it's more tried and true with a few aspects and characters shuffled around.

The abandoned second floor is a dismal place with grime and deterioration. The creepy looking villain that fittingly lives there--that's in the physical form instead of CGI with various contraptions and contorted face--looks effective despite a short amount of screen time. The co-stars are typically set up with specific archetypes--stern boss, shoulder to cry on, information guy--and do their parts well enough since they're not always required to step over with a wide arc of range. Though Yasmin Murphy, who plays Maggie, carries a distinct voice for her age and manages to transition from a bored brat to sympathetic for her ailment and abandonment situation. Elena Anaya, as Helen, feels the most realistic person--as opposed to a caricature or cinematic invention--as a foreigner in another country with a back and forth temperament of the pushed around employee who's job gets on her nerves. Calista Flockhart starts out somewhat neutral and almost comatose--on purpose or not is hard to say since she's popping pills here. She has a few break out scenes from her lull that go from cracked up and stressed out, to then eventually able to carry the strength of those around her as a commanding hero of sorts.

Rating: 7/10

Director: Jaume Balaguero (The Nameless, Darkness)
Stars: Calista Flockhart, Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, Colin McFarlane, Susie Trayling
Link: IMDB

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